Archive for Culatra

On the front line…

Posted in Fun, Photographs with tags , , on August 20, 2010 by maidofmettle

Yes Clare, we have been here for quite a long time, though not forever as you might think 😉 In fact we’ve been hanging around Faro, Culatra and Olhao (all in the same estuary) for nearly a month…unbelievable!

Don’t worry, we’ve not been short of things to do…not only have we been able to look at the weather forecast and go “euw, what’s that all about?!”, but also things have been breaking again so we have been chasing up various companies to try and sort things out.

First things first. Apparently Chris’ uncle suggested it might be an el nino year weather-wise, which would explain a bit why we don’t seem to have found our ‘perfect conditions’ to cross to Madeira yet. Of course it might be that we have been unlucky for the last few weeks but that doesn’t make us feel any better when we look at the weather and wave forecasts that show confusion, confusion, confusion.

Our lovely and un-ideal weather forecast (thanks Zygrib)

The main problem is that when waves travelling in different directions meet they can pyramid and become larger – sometimes becoming as high as the total of their heights. Unfortunately it appears that’s wave forecast does not take this into account. What it does show though is lots of confused waves colliding in and around the area we would want to be in for our passage to Madeira.

Same time and place waves forecast – doesn’t look good.

The weather continues to be a psychological struggle with a constant unknown factor – ‘will we leave next week or won’t we?’. Getting psyched up to leave, not to mention the practicalities of filling up with water and food (when you’re not in a marina and you don’t have running water less than a row away), tidying etc then …’oh! Forecast says no’. The worst bit (and I suppose the best) is that the actual weather (i.e. is it warm, sunny, raining or whatever) is still really nice so when you see a forecast that puts you off leaving it seems a bit frustrating. Equally frustrating is deciding not to go then seeing a couple of days later that it didn’t turn out to be as bad as the initial forecast suggested it would be. Then you’re thinking ‘we could have gone after-all!’ Maybe life before forecasts was a bit simpler in a way…

The list of broken things has grown along with Chris’ list of companies he dislikes. The poor customer service list now includes Plastimo who have fallen down in our estimation, after a good performance replacing our broken water tanks back in Reims. Our Plastimo outboard bracket has a nasty crack in the plastic of the mounting pad which they are unwilling to do anything about without us returning it to England. Given that the outboard is our only engine we are powerless if we were to take the outboard bracket off and send it away. It looks like we may have to repair it ourselves instead.

Other broken things include the pendants that come with our man overboard Lifetag system – all three have started to crack. We are in the process of getting these sorted out so will let you know how that goes.

Our Adventures around Faro, Culatra and Olhao

Unless you’ve seen it, geography is a bit confusing round here so here’s a map…

Despite our troubles with broken things and annoying weather forecasts it’s not all doom and gloom. In our travels around the estuary we have explored lots of places, met up with some people for lovely food (thanks Gail and Steve for your hospitality, books and BBQ tongs)

Nice BBQ at Culatra beach with Gail and Steve from “Gone Troppo”

Also, I have been teaching Chris to dive. We now have two diving platforms made out of our fender boards from the canals. One low down at the side of the boat, the other higher at the back of one side boat. The second diving plank would also be useful should we have a mutiny.

The mandolin, guitar (and occasionally the Guinness themed harmonica when Pete joins us) ensemble is going from strength to strength. We are getting a good number of songs together in our repertoire and learning chords quickly. Oasis’ Wonderwall can often be heard across the water.

The kayak has had several outings, most interestingly taking the chance to see a channel at Culatra that is only navigable with an exceedingly high tide and a bit of squeezing under a boardwalk.

Kayak up the channel at Culatra at high tide
– this was dried out for the majority of our time there

We briefly visited Olhao to stock up with water (via lots of trips in the dinghy to collect water from a tap on shore) and food from the local market. The market was impressive for its fresh fruit and veg, honey and more fish than is imaginable. These people really like sea food, so much so in fact they have a big party to celebrate fishing. We saw them carrying a statue of Mary in procession through Olhao town (accompanied by a marching band) to the port and then onto fishing boats which went across the water to Culatra in a convoy of flags and noise. They seemed to be enjoying the organised chaos…We decided leaving Olhao at that point to go back to Culatra would have been unwise.

Unusual vegetables in Olhao market

Woo fish! The parade from Olhao to Culatra

Yesterday we all went for a meal in Faro. On the way back Chris and I hired a couple of Segways to try for 10 mins. They are brilliant and surprisingly quick to get the hang of. I felt like someone in the Jetsons (children’s cartoon show set in the future) I would have to sell my car to buy one though!

Chris and Caroline “Jetsons eat your heart out. We love Segways!”

The Waiting Game

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Wildlife with tags , , , , on July 31, 2010 by maidofmettle

I like the moon…night-time view at anchor

We are having fun in and around Faro and Culatra at the moment because there is some funny weather going on out at sea.
Not wishing to repeat some of our previous sailing ‘adventures’ we are holding out for those promised perfect conditions to cross to Madeira and Porto Santo (a little island just before Madeira)

I am writing this from an anchorage near the island of Culatra where we arrived the day before yesterday. Highlights so far include some really big dogs, one of whom looked a bit familiar 😉

What’s he doing here? A distant cousin perhaps?

Large dogs asside, Culatra is an interesting place not only because it is mostly a fishing village but also because it has no roads to speak of. In addition, both free water supplies and ATM money appeared to have run dry yesterday. Luckily we have a good bit of tank water left.

Fishermen at work

Culatra – roadless, waterless, ATMless town (at the moment at least)

Unfortunately the lack of ATM did land us in the embarrassing situation of going into a restaurant and not having enough money between us to pay for a meal from their menu! By the time I got back to the restaurant to tell the other two that the cashpoint was out of order they had already had the drinks and bits of bread and olives (that they seem to sneakily charge you for even if you didn’t ask for them) delivered to the table, leaving us a little short to actually order any kind of main meal. It turned out we had walked into quite a pricey restaurant. So it was left to Pete to try and explain that because the cash point was broken we could only afford to pay for drinks and the other bits and pieces they had brought out already. Embarrassing…I’m just glad we didn’t have to resort to offering to do the washing up.

The restaurant was actually very nice about it and offered to cook us some fish and salad for a small price, even bringing another drink out on the house! This was the second time we had eaten fish unexpectedly as only a few days before in Faro we had been enjoying a beach bbq when a Portugese family with a slightly insane German Shepherd puppy cooked us some on their bbq. It was probably the first time I ate fish that wasn’t tuna, cod or battered/breadcrummed and actually really liked it.

Unexpected bbq fish at Faro

Our efforts with tinned ‘lunch’. It makes good burgers

Our anchorage at Faro was quite a row away from the main town but looking round it was well worth it. The old town was especially impressive and downtown Faro was really good for photos.

Downtown Faro

Fountain near the edge of the old town in Faro

The area around Faro and Culatra is very good for kayaking. When the tide is low grassy banks appear with small pools to hide wildlife. These are good because out of the main channels the current is much weaker generally, though it is easy to see how you could get lost as the landscape changes with the tide.

View of Faro from kayak – grass previously covered by water

Rewards. Nice beach and food
(even if you did forget the tin opener and have to use a rock to open the tin!

Kayaking the faro channels

In the spirit of finding unusual animals on board we found another one the other day. Only trouble is we don’t know what it was. Charlie has since been re-homed on Culatra after a bit of a motor with us from Faro.

Big bug